Spirit forward: The Old-Fashioned
by Gary Crunkleton
The first mention of a cocktail dates back to 1806 — spirit, sugar, bitters, water — from The Balance and Columbian Repository newspaper in Hudson, New York. Although the article did not claim this particular cocktail to be the Old-Fashioned, it did capture the style of the drink in a time when grogs and slings were enjoyed. Here is where I will use my discretion and claim the Old-Fashioned dates back prior to 1806, despite it first being mentioned by name as a drink in the 1830s.
This recipe is in its purest form, which is prior to the American experiment known as Prohibition. It calls for rye whiskey. During Prohibition, drinkers developed a penchant for sweeter spirits, given they were drinking rum from the Caribbean and Canadian whisky from the North — both are sweet, of course. After Prohibition, the ingredients for the Old-Fashioned changed to include sweeter things like oranges, cherries, brandy and bourbon.
No matter how you prefer your Old-Fashioned, have fun making it, and enjoy!
2 ounces bonded rye whiskey (Old Forester)
1/4 ounce simple syrup (2 parts sugar, one part water)
3 dashes Peychuad’s bitters
orange peel for garnish
Mix the first three ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes, stir and strain into a chilled Old-Fashioned glass that has been in the freezer. Garnishing is important, given that the oils from a swath of orange peel need to be extracted onto the top of the drink. Squeeze the outside of the peel while holding it above the glass. This should allow the oils to settle or float on top, adding complexity to the drink. Gentle place the swath into the drink without disturbing the oils. SP
Spirit Forward features excerpts from conversations with Gary Crunkleton, owner of The Crunkleton in Chapel Hill and The Crunkleton Charlotte.